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  • Weekly Digests

Week of June 3 – 7, 2019

June 7, 2019

Commission meetings and hearings

Advisory opinions

Advisory opinion request considered

Advisory Opinion Request 2019-07 (Area 1 Security, Inc.)

On June 6, the Commission discussed Advisory Opinion Request 2019-07 from Area 1 Security, Inc. The requestor, a technology corporation, asks whether it may offer anti-phishing cybersecurity services to federal candidates and political committees at low cost.

Advisory Opinion Request received

Advisory Opinion Request 2019-09 (Mad Dog PAC).

On June 5, 2019, the Commission made public an advisory opinion request from Mad Dog PAC, a nonconnected political committee. The requestor asks about the permissibility of selling t-shirts to raise funds for the committee. The t-shirts will bear the facial likenesses and names of various candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination for the presidency in 2020. The requestor will neither communicate nor share the proceeds with any candidates. Comments on the request will be accepted until June 15, 2019. The Commission is required to provide a response within 60 days, that is, not later than August 5, 2019.

Enforcement

The Commission made public nine closed cases, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

MUR 7022

  • COMPLAINANT: Ruben Kihuen for Congress by David Chase, Campaign Manager
  • RESPONDENTS: Bernie 2016 and Susan Jackson, in her official capacity as treasurer (Bernie 2016); and Flores for Congress and Norberto J. Cisneros, in his official capacity as treasurer (Flores Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that during the week leading up to the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary Caucus in Nevada, Bernie 2016, the principal campaign committee of 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, paid for a television advertisement that featured an endorsement of Sanders by Lucy Flores, a 2016 candidate for Nevada’s 4th Congressional District, resulting in an excessive in-kind contribution in the form of coordinated communication by Bernie 2016 to the Flores Committee . The complaint further alleged that the advertisement failed to include an appropriate disclaimer because it did not include a statement that Flores, in addition to Sanders, paid for and/or approved the advertisement.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe the ad in question constituted a coordinated communication because it satisfied the Commission’s “safe harbor” provision for candidate endorsements, as it did not appear to promote, support, attack or oppose Flores, the endorsing candidate, or any other candidate running for the congressional seat at issue. The Commission also found no reason to believe that Bernie 2016 or the Flores Committee violated the disclaimer rules because the ad was intended to influence the election of Sanders, not Flores, and it contained the appropriate disclaimer in connection with his candidacy.

MUR 7417

  • COMPLAINANT: Dennis Olson
  • RESPONDENTS: Indivisible Washington’s 8th District (WA8); Dr. Kim Schrier for Congress and Philip Lloyd, in his official capacity as treasurer (Schrier Committee); Jason Rittereiser for Congress and Jay Petterson, in his official capacity as treasurer (Rittereiser Committee); and Dr. Shannon for Congress and Janica Kyriacopoulos, in her official capacity as treasurer (Shannon Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that WA8, a self-styled grassroots organization formed in 2017, failed to register and report as a political committee, as required by the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended, (the Act), after raising or spending over $1,000 for the purpose of electing a Democrat to Congress from Washington’s 8th Congressional District. The complaint asserted that WA8’s activities included sponsoring a candidate forum that benefited the Schrier Committee, the Rittereiser Committee, and the Shannon Committee. Because of WA8’s purported political committee status, the complaint also alleged that WA8’s website failed to include a required disclaimer. The complaint further contended that WA8 coordinated with the Washington State Democratic Party to help elect Democratic candidates.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the allegations in the complaint, noting that it appeared unlikely that WA8 crossed the $1,000 statutory threshold for political committee status. The Commission noted the likely small amounts of any unreported in-kind contributions from WA8 to the Schrier, Rittereiser, and Shannon Committees. The Commission also noted the likely de minimis amounts of any communications that lacked a disclaimer and the fact that WA8’s social media posts did not need a disclaimer because they were not posted for a fee on another person’s website.

MUR 7440

  • COMPLAINANT: Campaign Legal Center
  • RESPONDENTS: New PAC and Tony Souza, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee, a leadership PAC of Rep. Devin Nunes, made disbursements for non-commercial travel in violation of the Act.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file.

MUR 7462

  • COMPLAINANT: Jan Crawford
  • RESPONDENTS: Bob Rackleff Campaign Committee and Mary Esther Moring, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Robert Rackleff
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee failed to pay the complainant an agreed-upon retainer of $16,000 per month for media consulting services that were rendered to the campaign, resulting in an excessive in-kind contribution to the Committee.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of agency priorities.

MUR 7489

  • COMPLAINANT: Regina Ballinger
  • RESPONDENTS: Diehl for U.S. Senate and Gregory Eaton, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee distributed yard signs and a flyer lacking a proper disclaimer and also operated a campaign tour bus with the likeness and slogan of the candidate without a proper disclaimer. Geoff Diehl was a 2018 candidate for Massachusetts’s U.S. Senate seat.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of agency priorities.

MUR 7499

  • COMPLAINANT: Ron Peterson
  • RESPONDENTS: Cristina McNeil for Congress and Susan Eastlake, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee failed to pay a $500 fee for website consulting and design services that were rendered to the Committee by a third party, Gunning Telecom, LLC. Cristina McNeil was a 2018 candidate for Idaho’s First Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of agency priorities.

MUR 7509

  • COMPLAINANT: Mark Munroe
  • RESPONDENTS: Tim Ryan for Congress and Allen Ryan, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee distributed a printed campaign advertisement but failed to put the ad’s disclaimer in a printed box set apart from the other contents of the communication. Tim Ryan was a 2018 candidate for Ohio’s 13th Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of agency priorities.

MUR 7517

  • COMPLAINANT: End Citizens United
  • RESPONDENTS: Mast for Congress and Paul Kilgore, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Brian Mast
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee failed to include the appropriate disclaimer on a television advertisement that attacks Mast's opponent because it did not include a clearly identifiable image of Mast, a 2018 candidate for Florida’s 18th Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of agency priorities.

MUR 7529

  • COMPLAINANT: Eliot J. Rabin
  • RESPONDENT: Molly C. Braswell
  • SUBJECT: The complainant alleged that Braswell, Rabin’s former campaign manager, may have used $50 in campaign funds for personal use.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of agency priorities.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

The Commission made public one closed case, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

ADR 899

  • COMPLAINANT: Parrisa Yazdani
  • RESPONDENTS: Katie Porter for Congress and Alexander Warren, in his official capacity as treasurer (Porter Committee); Ed Pope for Mayor of Irvine 2018 (Pope Committee); Farrah N. Khan for Irvine City Council 2018 (Khan Committee); and Abraham Ghorbanian, CEO, Avin Dental, Inc.
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Ghorbanian sent a mail piece referencing the Porter Committee and two nonfederal committees, the Pope and Khan Committees, which lacked a proper disclaimer. The complaint further alleged that (1) Ghorbanian did not file required disclosure reports, (2) he may have coordinated with the Porter Committee, resulting in an excessive in-kind contribution, and (3) the in-kind contribution may have been a prohibited corporate contribution if the funds were provided by Avin Dental, Inc.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of agency priorities.

Litigation

Regulations and agency procedures

Electronic Filing Passwords. The Commission has introduced additional security features to its Electronic Filing Password Assignment System. The Commission will now send approval emails to the official email address(es) listed on the committee’s Statement of Organization (FEC Form 1) if a password request is submitted from another email address. The email will allow a committee agent to approve or reject the new password request.

Public Disclosure

On June 3, the Commission’s Office of Inspector General made public its Semiannual Report to Congress.

Outreach

On June 7, Senior Communication Specialists Dorothy Yeager and Kathy Carothers discussed the operations of the Commission and PAC fundraising at the National Institute for Lobbying and Ethics Seminar in Washington, D.C.

Upcoming Commission meetings and hearings

Meeting dates are subject to change. Please contact the Press Office the week of the scheduled meeting for confirmation.

Upcoming reporting due dates

June 20, 2019: June Monthly reports are due. For more information on monthly reporting dates, refer to the 2019 Monthly Reporting page of the Commission website.

Upcoming educational programs

  • On June 12, Commission staff will host a webinar for candidates and their authorized committees.
  • On June 26, Commission staff will host reporting and FECFile webinars for candidate committees.

Additional research materials

FEC Notify: Want to be notified by email when campaign finance reports are received by the agency? Sign up here.

Additional research materials about the agency, campaign finance information, and election results are available through the Library section of the Commission website.

Printed copies of the 2018 edition of Title 11 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) are available. Contact the Commission's Information Division at (202) 694-1100 or (800) 424-9530 (press 6, when prompted) to order printed copies of the CFR at no charge. You may also email the Information Division to place an order at info@fec.gov.

The 2017 Campaign Guide for Corporations and Labor Organizations is available. Other Campaign Guides are available, as well.

Federal Elections 2016: Election Results for the U.S. President, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives is available. The data was compiled from the official vote totals published by state election offices. To order a printed copy, please contact the FEC’s Public Records Office at 800/424-9530 (option 2) or 202/694-1120, or send an email to pubrec@fec.gov.

The Combined Federal State Disclosure and Election Directory is available. This publication identifies the federal and state agencies responsible for the disclosure of campaign finances, lobbying, personal finances, public financing, candidates on the ballot, election results, spending on state initiatives and other financial filings.

The FEC Record is available as a continuously updated online news source.

Join the FEC on Twitter and YouTube

Follow @FEC on Twitter to receive the latest information on agency updates, news releases, and weekly activity. Subscribe to our YouTube channel, FECTube: FECConnect on Demand, to watch instructional videos that have been designed to help candidates and committees comply with federal campaign finance laws. Note that the FEC is not currently available through other social media platforms at this time. The use of the agency’s logo, name, and likeness on other media has not been authorized by the FEC.